Mavericks’ Bold Plans For Dereck Lively II’s Role, Revealed

Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

Rookie big man Dereck Lively II looks set to start for the Dallas Mavericks on opening night. The 19-year-old has put together a solid NBA preseason, averaging 3.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 19.1 minutes per contest.

The No. 12 pick has plenty of room to grow on offense, but his rim deterrence has impressed head coach Jason Kidd enough to make him a likely starter. Following Dallas’ preseason loss to Real Madrid, Kidd discussed Lively’s chemistry with the starters.

“Look at what Lively has done here on this trip,” Kidd said, per Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated. “He’s doing extremely well starting with the starters … He’s doing everything to start.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Dereck Lively II & Dallas Mavericks Updates

The glass-crashing shot-blocker averaged 2.4 rejections as a freshman and shot 72.1% from inside the arc. Per 40 minutes, Lively averaged 4.7 blocks for Duke. The 7-foot-1 youngster will do his best to serve as a defensive force for the Mavs. Taking over for veteran Dwight Powell, Lively is bound to endure some growing pains as he begins his NBA career.

Dallas’ bottom-six defense played a big part in last spring’s postseason absence. Committed to improving their team defense, the Mavs hope to lean on Lively’s interior presence as an anchor.

“Lively is doing everything,” Kidd said. “As a rookie, he will make some mistakes, but I think he’s had an incredible three games here of learning what the NBA game’s all about … He’s only going to get better.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Dereck Lively II & Dallas Mavericks Updates

In his preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lively took on a two-headed monster in Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. After the game, the teenager discussed what it takes to hang in the big leagues.

“You have to be able to use a lot of physicality,” Lively said, per Afseth. “You have to speed up the game a little bit differently. The floor is bigger, but it just takes time to get used to it. You have to learn and move on to the next game.”

In his NBA debut, Lively will square off against No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs. The two teams from Texas will meet on Oct. 25 in San Antonio.

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